2 Air Force leaders on breaking barriers, inspiring positive change

Washington — Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, are both firsts in their roles. Brown is the first Black man to serve as chief of staff, while Bass is the first woman to earn chief master sergeant title.

"One of the things I really believe is young people only aspire to be what they see," Brown told CBS News this week. "You don't decide to grow up to be something you've never seen."

"It is humbling," Bass said of being the first woman to serve as chief master sergeant. "And it's an honor to be able to serve alongside heroes and visionaries like these people."

All military branches are struggling to recruit and retain servicemembers. There are multiple factors to this, including a pervasive culture of harassment and bullying.

"I'm very focused on developing the culture within organizations where all of our airmen can reach their full potential," Brown said. "Where they have zero detractors, whether it's sexual assault, discrimination, harassment, bullying. Those are the areas, and that takes leadership."

When asked about allegations from sexual abuse survivors who believe the Air Force is letting perpetrators get away with their crimes, Brown said that "our goal is to hold all those accountable."

"Can we do better? Yes. As always, room for improvement," he added.

Brown also explained what he believes the Air Force can do to make it easier for people to join.

"There's five key things that impact military families: child care, education, housing, health care and spousal employment," Brown said. "Those are the things that really help us with the retention and support, not only our military members but more importantly, our military families."

May 20 marks Armed Forces Day, when the nation honors those who serve, past and present across all branches of the military.

"We want America to know some of the caliber of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military," Bass said. "They are probably some of the most talented, most educated people in our nation. They inspire me every single day."

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